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  • Writer's pictureDr. Vin

Spring Break

Last week we took a pleasant 10 hour road trip from Southern California to spend a week in the San Francisco Bay Area. The weather was 75-80 degrees every day, well into the evening. When I lived there 30 years ago it was mandatory that no matter how warm the day had been, by 3pm a sweater was needed. This trip - no 3pm chill, no fog, just sun. Spring sprung and the Bay Area took a weeklong break from its usual weather. I took some breaks this week too.

I took a break from reading or listening to any political news. I didn't watch television, except basketball (mandatory visiting relatives in the Bay Area lounging in their Golden State Warriors pajamas). One brother in Oakland watches with sound off so he can chat about other things, while another brother and his wife in San Rafael watch pre-game, the game, post game. I couldn’t make it through all that. I did read in an email that a podcast I guested on went live so we did listen to that in Oakland. The podcast is titled, “On Communicating to be Seen and Heard” and can be found at:

I took a break from my usual views and routines. This made room for some lovely surprises. The deeply grooved gnarly twisted barks of the trees lining Lake Merritt on our evening walk were so fascinating I wanted to touch them and draw them. My brother made lemon poppy seed muffins for breakfast that everyone else enjoyed but I could not eat because I prefer gluten free. After breakfast he drove to some alley where we went through a backdoor into a wonderful surprise. It led into the Mariposa Bakery, which was full of yummy gluten free everything! Those were a few surprises in Oakland.

After our Oakland adventure we drove to San Rafael and sunk into comfy chairs in the middle of another brother’s upscale rustic garden, inhaling cascading waves of pungent purple Wisteria, perky white Jasmine and orange tree blossoms. I felt lulled by the delicious smells and sights and then was treated to a meal of salmon surrounded by crisp veggies and greens plunked from this same beautiful garden. I felt like I could sit quietly in this garden paradise forever, amid the wafting scents and fresh organic food. Being waited on and in the company of beloved people added to the pleasure of this wonderful oasis.

On Easter Sunday we walked up some chapel steps to peek in the back of a Brazilian service where parishioners were holding hands and singing with great feeling in Portuguese. At the end of the song they greeted each other and included us, shaking our hands and saying, “paz para voce” (peace to you).

I took a break from my usual routine by taking more time for family and friends on this one week visit. My three best friends live in the Bay Area and I got to see each of them for lengthy talks, walks, shared meals and hearty laughs.

We rested after our return and yesterday went to the butterfly jungle exhibit at Safari Park near our home. There were big crowds of families with parents telling their little ones not to reach for a butterfly, but to wait until it came to them. The park suggests you wear brightly colored clothes to encourage butterflies to land on you. So I pinned two big, gaudy flowers to a neon orange hat in hopes of attracting butterflies. No luck. My husband, on the other hand, wearing a muted denim blue shirt attracted 3 butterflies, one on each shoulder and one on his hand. The butterflies paid no attention to my colorful hat or to the grabby toddlers chasing them. Instead they landed on the calm man who waited. I dubbed him, “the butterfly whisperer.”


“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne


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